This weekend brought two big migration stories--one from Europe and one from Cuba (and thanks to Rubén Rumbaut for the link to the latter one). OK, first, the drama in Europe, as reported by the NYTimes:
While the flow of migrants to Europe this year already represents the biggest influx from outside the Continent in modern history, many experts warn that the mass movement may continue and even increase — possibly for years to come. “We are talking about millions of potential refugees trying to reach Europe, not thousands,” Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, said in a recent Twitter posting.Some of that flow from the global south to the global north is a renewed wave of migrants from Cuba to the US, via Guatemala and Mexico. The Miami Herald has this story.
“I don’t think this wave can stop,” said Sonja Licht of the International Center for Democratic Transition. “It can maybe from time to time be somewhat less intensive, we simply have to prepare. The global north must be prepared that the global south is on the move, the entire global south. This is not just a problem for Europe but for the whole world.”
A new exodus of Cubans is underway at this river in Ciudad Hidalgo in the Mexican state of Chiapas. Over the past month, hundreds have come across from the border town of Tecún Umán, Guatemala, and those making the journey say many more are on the way.Why are they doing this?
“We’re leaving in droves,” said one Cuban as he rushed to get away from the river and onto a van that would drive his group to the nearest immigration center in Tapachula, about 18 miles away. “Everybody is leaving Cuba.”
Those fleeing cited several reasons for abandoning the island, including economic hardships and fear that restored diplomatic ties between Washington and Havana will bring an end to the Cuban Adjustment Act, which allows most Cubans who make it to U.S. soil to stay. But the primary reason cited for fleeing, migrants said, is simply because now they can.
New rules that took effect in 2013, which eased strict exit visa requirements, allowing Cubans to travel more freely, have opened a new way out for those who want to abandon the island.This is a pretty arduous and circuitous journey, of course, considering how close Cuba is geographically to the US. And keep in mind that Ciudad Hidalgo, sitting on the river that separates Mexico from Guatemala, is a human and drug trafficking mecca, of sorts. It also has a bunch of crummy diseases hanging around town, including HIV and Chagas, that these migrants may find themselves exposed to as they pass through. This last observation is based on research currently being carried out by my UCSD School of Medicine colleague, Dr. Kimberly Brouwer.